Eighteen people alleged to have ties to a violent drug gang based in Wilkinsburg have been arrested in what is being called a major bust. The suspected drug dealers were taken into custody as part of a joint effort involving the PA Attorney General's Organized Crime Section and the Allegheny County Police.
The "Operation Wilkinsburg Crew" was launched, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane, in reaction to a series of homicides and shootings in Wilkinsburg believed to be related to heroin trafficking.
“Last year Wilkinsburg experienced the highest number of homicides in Allegheny County outside the city of Pittsburgh,” Kane said. “The majority of the homicides and shootings stem from ongoing feuds between several identified crews and their attempts to control the heroin trade in Wilkinsburg.”
Police used wiretaps and undercover drug purchases to set up the busts, where several guns, approximately 270 bricks of heroin, almost $100,000 in cash and more than a half kilogram of powder and crack cocaine were seized.
Kane said the heroin was broken into 13,500 individual bags ready to be sold on the street.
“Most of the members of the Wilkinsburg crew are in their early 20s, and they use children as young as 13 to run heroin and cash between dealers and buyers,” Kane said.
While announcing the bust, Kane noted that this is not just a Wilkinsburg problem or even a Pittsburgh problem. She said many of the heroin buyers identified in the investigation came from Westmoreland County.
According to investigators, in that county alone there have been 20 heroin-related deaths so far this year.